Vladimir Romanov gives interview in submarine as former Hearts owner claims he wanted to buy Liverpool and sell Steven Gerrard to Chelsea for £120m

Lithuanian now writes poetry and denies any wrongdoing
Vladimir Romanov has made some interesting claims about his time in footballVladimir Romanov has made some interesting claims about his time in football
Vladimir Romanov has made some interesting claims about his time in football

Former Hearts owner Vladimir Romanov insists he could have made the Tynecastle side one of the world's best clubs after the Lithuanian fugitive broke his silence in a bizarre interview inside his own personal K-19 nuclear submarine on which he used to serve during his days as a member of the Soviet Union's navy.

Romanov was the controversial owner of Hearts from 2005 until 2013, when his leadership plunged the club into administration.

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The 72-year-old is still wanted by Lithuanian authorities for allegations of fraud, embezzlement and money laundering and was wanted by Interpol, but took refuge outside Moscow and is now a Russian citizen.

And after years of silence, Romanov has revealed that he believed he was on the brink of making Hearts a superpower in Scottish football and in Europe.

Romanov said: "Hearts' largest annual budget was only £10 million. But we sold players for £7-10 million. I actually made a profit!

"No one could believe it. I broke the system and it didn't hurt the results on the pitch.

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"We won the Scottish Cup, took second place in the league and then I started putting young players on the pitch. Over 90 per cent of the line-up was from the club's academy.

"There wasn't a team in the world like us who could boast about producing our own players and still making a profit. We would have been a real force if we had kept going.

"I had young players from all over Scotland begging to play for me - they dreamed of it. And it's because they knew I would have played them.

"When I was in charge of Hearts, we had a budget that was ten times lower than Celtic and Rangers and I still beat them.

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"In fact, I even managed to beat Rangers when I was at Kaunas in Europe. What I loved about Scotland was that it just wasn't football...it was war."

'We even drew up a preliminary contract'

Romanov also revealed he came close to buying current European champions and English champions-elect Liverpool when he was Hearts owner and had his own plans for future Rangers boss Steven Gerrard.

He recalled: "We played Liverpool when I was at Kaunas and we were a goal up. I agreed a deal with David Moores, who was their chairman, to buy them for £200 million.

"At the time, my budget at Hearts was tiny as I said, but we even drew up a preliminary contract. Unfortunately my financial partner Oleg Deripaska wouldn't agree to releasing the funds for it.

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"But I told him we would have got £120 million back straight away by selling Steven Gerrard to Roman Abramovich at Chelsea. He would have paid that.

"They ended up selling Liverpool for £600 million to the Americans. It's the biggest regret in my business life."

'My new project is poetry'

Romanov revealed he now has a new project in his life and refuses to believe he's broken any laws.

He pointed out: "The Lithuanians turned to Interpol, but Russia refused to extradite me and I was granted refugee status and more recently, citizenship.

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"I feel cheated about what happened. If I had been beaten by another entrepreneur, I could have accepted it, but the state did it. They robbed me.

"Once, I had £1 billion including loans and assets. Now I don't even get a pension here. A beautiful future awaits me.

"My new project is writing poetry to myself. I created a whole poem about the history of Lithuania. I'm excited about it."